CBS teacher asks: where’s the equality?

By Ciara Quinn

A concerned teacher from CBS has told the Andersonstown News that “equality as an issue is something that is totally lacking when addressing these two proposals.”

“CBS, a perfectly good secondary school that has received glowing reports from the Education Minister John O’Dowd and the Department of Education, is to be sacrificed to expand a grammar school in our community as a result of the development proposal for CBS,” said the teacher, who asked not to be named. “This proposal has been allowed to take place under the guidance of the Edmund Rice Schools Trust.

“The development of the two schools into one entity on the Glen Road was sold and promoted to the staff and school community of CBS on the basis of a consolidation of what was best between the two schools. This seemed acceptable as in the early document from the Trustees the principal of consolidation implied we would have an influence and role to play in the development of this new entity – this is now clearly not the case as St Mary’s is to expand and increase its intake.

“For weeks prior to St Mary’s consultation day their development plan was available on their website for public consumption and obviously to gather support for it. An invitation from Kevin Burke of the Trustees was also on their website for parents to attend the consultation in St Mary’s last Thursday – the same courtesy was not extended to CBS parents.

“Staff in CBS were extremely alarmed to see the promotion of the St Mary’s development plan publicly by St Mary’s referring to the CBS closure to pursue their ambition of an expanded grammar school on the Glen Road. I must stress that this plan has been approved by the Board of Governors of St Mary’s. CBS staff have not seen it and only heard the proclamations from St Mary’s that there would be no amalgamation: CBS is closing – we are expanding. The development plan highlighting the Trustees’ vision for our closure was not even shown to staff or parents at their presentation, only a power point with not a great deal of substance to it.”

The CBS teacher spoke of how in the first paragraph of the St Mary’s document staff are ensured fully about job security in any new arrangement.

“This is a good thing and is right. However, CBS staff jobs are the ones that will go and staff are only being given statutory guarantees about redun-dancy schemes.

 

Staff

“It must be stressed these are only proposals at this stage. CBS is not closing. We realise change is necessary, but to create a new entity and consolidate what is best between the two schools then equality of treatment must occur for staff and pupils to feel a part of this new vision.

“Local politicians who preach regularly about equality, some of whom are ex-pupils of St Mary’s, some of CBS, some with sons at St Mary’s, some with children at local secondary schools, must now also speak up for equality for the pupils and staff in both schools.

“As we know, in our society when a smaller grouping was bullied or not listened to a sore festered for many, many years.

Both schools should be treated equally, no matter what their size, in every way regarding jobs and integration of staff and pupils and a new vision of education created in our community that benefits everyone, not something that is just expanded on the basis of unfairness.

“As a school we are not afraid of change and were very positive that consolidation of what’s best between the two schools could lead to an exciting development in education for children and parents in our community. It now appears that the plan by the Trustees is just to expand the grammar school at our expense and to ensure we do not have a voice in it going forward.”

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